On Sunday, Beit Am Jewish Community held an open house for the grand opening of their new synagogue. Larry Platkin, a Beit Am ambassador, described the building’s construction as “A 20 year overnight sensation.”
The five acres the synagogue occupies were bought in 2000, in a partnership with the neighboring Church of Latter Day Saints. According to Charlie Wilson, a member of the LDS Church who helped with the purchase, “We needed overflow parking, we had service on Sunday, they needed overflow parking, they had service on Saturday. It all worked out.”
After narrowly dodging rezoning laws in 2015, Beit Am began the building process in earnest. Ground was broken two years ago, and construction finished this August, just in time for the high holidays. Most impressively, they managed to do so without a mortgage, a conscious effort on the part of Beit Am.
A point of pride for the synagogue’s building committee are the 24 kilowatt solar panels provided by a Blue Sky grant from Pacific Power. Generating 30 megawatts collectively, Beit Am is hoping to reach energy neutrality.
Welcoming Jewish & Non-Jewish
During the opening ceremony, Rabbi Phil Bressler told the crowd “If you are Jewish, whether you’re on the register or not, this is your home.” Non-Jewish visitors were then thanked for allowing “the expression of Judaism through the mitzvah of welcoming guests.”
A Somber Moment
There was a somber moment of remembrance. Slated for October 27, Beit Am’s open house marked the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting to the day. It was one year ago that a gunmen killed eleven worshippers at the Pittsburgh synagogue.
Mayor and Rabbi Speak
Mayor Biff Traber also spoke, congratulating Beit Am and stating that “faith communities help to build the welcoming and diverse community Corvallis wants to be.”
Rabbi Bressler told the Advocate “I’m absolutely delighted at the turnout. It feels very strengthening, to know that there is a community who wants us. And knowing the reception of Jews in other communities, I am not going to take that for granted.”
Photos and words by Brandon Urey